We break down the 16 teams in boys basketball that should be selected for the CIF Southern Section’s Open Division playoffs. It’s the third year for the massive section’s open division and it should include all 10 of the section’s teams ranked in this week’s Cal-Hi Sports State Top 20. There are plenty of candidates to fill out the bottom slots and the top seeds will be bigger prohibitive open round favorites than they were the past two seasons.
For the actual CIFSS Open Division pairings, check back on Friday evening.
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Below is our predictions for how the CIFSS Open Division should look:
(Listed with final regular season record, section division and overall state ranking)
No. 1 Chino Hills (27-0, I-AA, No. 1) vs. No. 16 Inglewood (20-6, III-A, BB)
No. 8 Mission Hills Alemany (21-6, IV-AA, No. 17) vs. No. 9 Santa Monica (24-2, I-A, BB)
No. 5 Redondo Beach Redondo Union (22-4, I-AA, No. 7) vs. No. 12 Eastvale Roosevelt (21-6,I-AA, BB)
No. 4 Santa Ana Mater Dei (25-3, I-AA, No. 4) vs. No. 13 Compton (18-8, I-AA, BB)
No. 3 Chatsworth Sierra Canyon (22-3*, V-AA, No. 3) vs. No. 14 Long Beach Poly (17-9, I-AA, BB)
No. 6 Corona Centennial (21-6, I-AA, No. 13) vs. No. 11 Los Alamitos (23-4, I-AA, BB)
No. 7 La Verne Damien (24-3, I-AA, No. 10) vs. No. 10 Encino Crespi (24-3, III-A, No. 11)
No. 2 Torrance Bishop Montgomery (24-1, I-AA, No. 2) vs. No. 15 Orange Lutheran (21-6, IV-AA, BB)
*regular season not complete
Cal-Hi Sports Breakdown
No. 1 Chino Hills: No-brainer pick as the No. 1 team in the state since the preseason. The current No. 1 ranked team in the FAB 50 National Rankings is looking to win its first section and CIF state title.
No. 2 Torrance Bishop Montgomery: Only loss a 71-67 setback to No. 1 Chino Hills, so pencil in the defending CIFSS Open champ Knights with the No. 2 seed. Its league wasn’t nearly as strong as the past two seasons, but Monty also didn’t have any stinker losses, as was the case last season when it lost to Marin Catholic.
No. 3 Chatsworth Sierra Canyon: This team still has to play L.A. Windward on Friday afternoon in the Gold Coast League championship game. It would be a major upset if Windward won, but it shouldn’t effect Sierra Canyon’s seeding here. Two of its three losses were buzzer beater types — one to FAB 50 No. 3 Oak Hill Academy of Virginia and the other to Moreau Catholic Thanksgiving weekend. The only loss that wasn’t last second was to Montverde Academy of Florida, ranked No. 2 nationally behind Chino Hills. A potential monster semifinal showdown with Bishop Montgomery awaits.
No. 4 Santa Ana Mater Dei: Similar to last season, the Monarchs are unbeaten vs. in-state foes during the regular season, so that puts them in front of Redondo Union and Corona Centennial. Despite Sierra Canyon’s loss to Moreau Catholic, the Trailblazers still have a stronger resume than Mater Dei, which was upset in last season’s semifinals by Etiwanda.
No. 5 Redondo Beach Redondo Union: It was evident weeks ago the fifth seed was going to be the first sticking point for the CIFSS Blue Ribbon Committee. Redondo Union has been a bit more consistent and has two less overall losses than Corona Centennial. The Seahawks defeated the Westchester team the Huskies lost to and of its four losses, Redondo was able to avenge the one to Bishop Gorman of Nevada. The Seahawks actually played a game in Toronto on Thursday night as part of NBA All-Star weekend festivities and came away with a 97-72 win.
No. 6 Corona Centennial: The Huskies closed strong and an avenging win over Roosevelt of Eastvale and a big win over Concord De La Salle should move them in front of Damien and Alemany. Centennial has a case to be seeded higher than Redondo, because of its 67-51 win over the Prestonwood Academy of Texas team Redondo lost to and the fact its lone league loss took place in the first go-around as opposed to the Seahawks’ recent loss to Inglewood. Three of Centennial’s losses also occurred when UCLA-bound big man Ike Anigbogu was out of the lineup and that could be a factor for the CIFSS’ Blue Ribbon Committee. In local rankings that the committee considers credible, however, Redondo is ranked ahead of the Huskies as is the case in our State Top 20.
No. 7 La Verne Damien: As the outright champ of the Mission League, Alemany has a case to be seeded ahead of the Spartans, the second place team in the Baseline League behind No. 1 Chino Hills. But Damien certainly won’t be the No. 8 seed because that would potentially pit them in the quarterfinals versus Chino Hills. The committee won’t place teams in the same league on the same side of the bracket. It won’t be too much of an issue this year also because there is more balance among public and parochial schools, the latter which tend to be bunched together in leagues. Besides, coach Mike LeDuc’s team has a strong resume with its only losses coming against Chino Hills in league (twice) and a one-point setback to open bubble club La Canada.
No. 8 Mission Hills Alemany: Coach Trey Meeks’ club only had one “bad” loss all season (if you can call it that) — a 65-55 loss to open bubble club Cantwell Sacred Heart of Montebello. Otherwise, the team has performed admirably, capturing the championship of the rugged Mission League for the second consecutive season with a 11-1 mark. The big result was Alemany’s 66-63 win on Monday over Crespi that was decided on a last-second 3-pointer by point guard Shac Dawkins. That win catapults Alemany up a few spots in the seedings and will also boost the Warriors in next week’s Cal-Hi Sports Top 20.
No. 9 Santa Monica: Encino Crespi has a case to be seeded right behind league nemesis Alemany, but that won’t happen because it would pit the two clubs against each other and they’ll surely fall on opposite sides of the bracket. The resumes of Santa Monica and Ayala of Chino Hills were fairly close going into Thursday. Neither owns a win over a projected CIFSS open division team, but SaMoHi’s wins over Etiwanda, Mercer Island of Washington, and Long Beach Millikan stand out and that was before Ayala lost on Thursday.
No. 10 Encino Crespi: The Celts could nab the No. 10 seed, but no higher, and it’s a price to pay for losing to Harvard-Westlake in Mission League play. Before that January 27 loss, Crespi was riding a 20-game winning streak and it looked like it could potentially challenge Mater Dei for the No. 4 seed. Since then, Crespi split with Alemany, but the Celts lost the second round league game (which is often different than losing the first game) and the loss to Harvard-Westlake cost Crespi a share of the league title. Past precedent for the committee is league titles don’t factor in as much as they would for us (i.e. Long Beach Poly and Compton in 2014), but Crespi’s split with Alemany is its only one victory over a projected open team and Santa Monica should be rewarded for not having a league letdown.
No. 11 Los Alamitos: Most credible local rankings had the Griffins No. 2 in Orange County behind Mater Dei during the regular season and they are ranked high in various SoCal polls. Don’t take too much from their blowout loss to Corona Roosevelt, which is projected with a lower seed, because of missing players; their 65-56 loss to L.A. Fairfax is more indicative of how they might fare against one of the top seeds. Los Al’s key win is over a full-strength Orange Lutheran team (more on that below).
No. 12 Eastvale Roosevelt: The Mustangs earned a share of the Big VIII League title with Corona Centennial with a head-to-head split, but as a whole the six teams Centennial lost to are stronger than the six coach Steve Singleton’s club fell against. Roosevelt has some key wins, including projected open clubs Compton and Los Alamitos, plus L.A. City Section open contenders Narbonne of Harbor City and Westchester. It’s hard to take evaluate anything from Roosevelt’s win over Los Al (64-37) because the Griffins were missing key players. Roosevelt might have different feelings about that score and probably deserves a higher seed than Los Al, but it is another club that drops a spot or two in the seedings because it cannot fall on the same side of the bracket as its league foe (in this case Corona Centennial).
No. 13 Compton: The co-Moore League champs have double the loss total of Los Al and lost head-to-head to Eastvale Roosevelt, not to mention against a Westchester team Roosevelt defeated. The Tarbabes, however, also own enough quality wins, and have the personnel necessary, to deserve an open division birth. Tony Thomas’ club defeated projected open club Inglewood, talented Taft of Woodland Hills and Long Beach Poly in the second round of Moore League play.
No. 14 Long Beach Poly: It looked like the Jackrabbits’ 66-54 loss to Compton on Wednesday night in the Moore League finale would knock them out of the open division. Then on Thursday night another open team candidate, Ayala of Chino Hills, lost its Palomares League finale vs. Bonita of La Verne. Bonita is not on the same level as Compton, which Poly split with. Poly does have nine losses, but the ‘Rabbits defeated projected open clubs Inglewood and Eastvale Roosevelt in addition to splitting with the Tarbabes. Poly’s record is also a bit deceiving because the injury bug hit Poly hard this season, but its track record and results dictate a deserving spot.
No. 15 Orange Lutheran: Coach Jeff Reinert of Santa Margarita publicly clamored for his team’s desire to compete in the open division and it looks like a wild Trinity League finale with the Lancers was for an open berth. Orange Lutheran pulled out a 69-68 win to sweep the Eagles and finish in second place in the league behind projected No. 4 seed Mater Dei. Inglewood is probably deserving of a higher seed, but the Lancers won’t be the No. 16 seed so they don’t fall on the same side of the bracket as Mater Dei and don’t deserve the No. 13 seed as much as Compton. Orange Lutheran also swept St. John Bosco of Bellflower in league play and should earn a berth despite the absence of KaVaughn Scott. Had the Lancers lost tonight, Scott’s injury would have been a big factor in their potential selection.
No. 16 Inglewood: The Sentinels, under veteran coach Patrick Roy, have put together a fine season and got the attention of the Blue Ribbon committee with an avenging win over projected No. 5 seed Redondo Union in Bay League play. Inglewood also avenged its league loss to Peninsula. The Sentinels also defeated Narbonne (a key result) and their split with Redondo Union is stronger than Poly’s split with Compton despite the head-to-head loss to the Jackrabbits. Poly also lost to Redondo 64-49. It will be a close call for the final spot, but Inglewood has a couple of signature wins and three less losses than Long Beach Poly and a stronger overall resume than Ayala, La Canada or J.W. North.
First Four Out (alphabetically): Chino Hills Ayala, La Canada, Riverside J.W. North, Santa Margarita
La Canada simply isn’t as talented as Inglewood, doesn’t have the key wins, and lost to the Narbonne team Inglewood defeated. J.W. North also has lost to Narbonne and didn’t defeat one of the top 16 projected seeds. Ayala had won 13 consecutive games since a loss to Serra of San Mateo in its last game of 2015 and Ayala’s other loss was a 72-68 overtime setback to projected No. 4 seed Santa Ana Mater Dei, but Ayala doesn’t have the wins Inglewood or Orange Lutheran have. Bonita’s 82-81 victory over Ayala on a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Joe Quintana altered the seedings and potentially the 16 teams. Cantwell Sacred Heart of Montebello’s win over Alemany is offset by too many overall losses and Santa Margarita was playing for a spot in the open on Wednesday and lost. The Eagles played a tough schedule, but don’t have any victories over projected open division teams.